Fullerton police this week arrested three people, including a Laguna Beach police officer, as part of an ongoing elder abuse and fraud investigation.
Officer Rock Wagner, a nine-year Laguna Beach patrol officer, was placed on administrative leave and will remain so until the outcome of an internal affairs investigation, Laguna Beach Police Chief Laura Farinella said Friday, Dec. 1. Such an inquiry could take 30 days, she said.
Farinella said the department occasionally received unsolicited commendations about Wagner’s patrol work. “It’s kind of a shock for someone who received accolades to be arrested; that’s unusual,” she said.
Neither Farinella nor a Fullerton police spokesman could provide any details about the origin of the case, alleged misconduct brought to the attention of Fullerton authorities by the district attorney’s office and the Orange County Adult Protective Services department.
Wagner, 58, of Lake Forest, was arrested alongside his sister, Wendy Wagner, 55, and her boyfriend, Norman McBride, 58, both of Huntington Beach, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, says a Fullerton police statement.
Farinella expressed disappointment in the arrest, but pointed out that no criminal activity is alleged to have occurred within city limits or while Wagner was on-duty.
While the “beyond reasonable doubt” standard is required for a conviction in criminal court, an employer’s internal affairs investigation need not wait for a court finding. The internal inquiry sets a lower threshold to determine if “a preponderance of evidence” shows a violation of internal policies, Farinella explained. Such a violation could result in discipline up to termination, she said.